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Amoxicillin

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What is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic that is used to fight bacterial infections such as, chest infections, tonsillitispneumonia, dental abscesses, ear infections, gonorrhoeaUTI’s (urinary tract infections) and for severe cases of Salmonella poisoning.

There are many brands and forms of Amoxicillin available, it can come as capsules or as a liquid that you drink.  It can also be given by injection, but this is only usually given in hospital.

Amoxicillin can be given to both adults and children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

How does Amoxicillin work?

Amoxicillin works by interfering with the ability of bacteria to form and grow on cell walls. This kills the bacteria and so then eradicates the infection.

What side effects can Amoxicillin cause? 

The most common side effects of taking amoxicillin are nausea, sickness and diarrhoea. If these symptoms are mild, continue taking your prescription. If, however, you are showing any of the following side effects, contact your doctor immediately: –

  • Watery or bloody diarrhoea
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes
  • Skin rash which may include a fever, flushing, blisters or skin that looks like it has been burnt
  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Easy bruising
  • Joint or muscle pain after 2 days of taking medicine
  • Dark urine

Allergies to Amoxicillin

Approximately 1 in 15 people will have a mild allergic reaction to amoxicillin with symptoms such as an itchy skin rash, coughing and wheezing. If you experience any of these symptoms call your GP or NHS 111. If you are showing signs of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to amoxicillin such as:

  • Hives (skin rash which is red, swollen, blistered or peeling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue and throat

This is a medical emergency. Call an ambulance immediately.

How to use

Amoxicillin is usually prescribed in doses of 250mg to 500mg to be taken 3 times a day. Each dose should be taken at regular intervals over a 24 hour period, so if you are prescribed 3 doses each day, 1 dose should be taken every 8 hours, this would ideally be first thing in the morning, mid afternoon and just before bed.

Amoxicillin capsules must be swallowed whole with water. Do not chew or break them. If amoxicillin is being taken as a liquid, you will be provided with a plastic syringe or spoon so that you are able to measure out the correct dose. Oral Liquid amoxicillin comes in several flavours including peach, strawberry or lemon. If you are prescribed a chewable tablet, it must be chewed before swallowing. Some brands of amoxicillin may be taken with or without food whereas others (such as Moxatag) must be taken with food. Check your prescription label or patient information leaflet.

It is important that you complete the whole course as prescribed and not to stop treatment when you are feeling better, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.  If you stop taking an antibiotic before completing the course the infection may return and become resistant to that antibiotic.

Always follow the specific advice of your doctor and read the patient information leaflet, which comes with your prescription.

If you miss a dose of your antibiotics, take that dose as soon as you remember and continue the rest of the course as prescribed.  If you realise you’ve missed a dose close to when the next one is due, skip it to avoid taking a double dose.

If you accidentally take a double dose it is unlikely to cause you serious harm, but you do have an increased chance of experiencing side effects.  If you have taken a double dose and are concerned or are experiencing side effects, contact your doctor or call NHS 111.

Amoxicillin won’t affect your ability to drive and alcohol doesn’t affect the medicine, though drinking should always be in moderation.

Precautions

You should not take amoxicillin if you are allergic to any other penicillin drug.

If you have ever experienced a food or drug allergy or suffer from asthma, liver or kidney disease, mononucleosis (aka mono or glandular fever), tell your doctor.  Although amoxicillin is generally considered safe if pregnant or breast feeding, still inform your doctor.

If Amoxicillin causes sickness then this can reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill.  Inform your GP and ask for advice on additional contraception, such as condoms or diaphragm, while taking this medicine.

You should only ever take antibiotics that have been prescribed for you and after you have carefully read the patient information leaflet that comes with the prescription.  Never misuse antibiotics by: –

  • Taking medication prescribed to someone else
  • Sharing your prescription with another person
  • Taking them ‘just in case’
  • Not completing a prescribed course
  • Keeping a prescription for another time
  • Flushing unused antibiotics down the toilet or sink

Interactions with Other Medications

Amoxicillin, like many other medicines can interact with other drugs, causing a range of side effects, or simply making the antibiotic ineffective. It is, therefore, important that you tell your GP about all medicines, supplements or herbal products you are taking.

It is essential you tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines before you start taking amoxicillin: –

  • Methotrexate (used to treat several forms of arthritis)
  • Warfarin (a blood thinner)
  • Probenecid and allopurinol (used for treating gout)
  • Other antibiotics

If you have any concerns when being prescribed Amoxicillin, or any antibiotic, discuss them with your doctor or healthcare provider and provide them with full details of any allergies you have and any medication, supplements or herbal products you are already taking, prescribed or not.